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Curiosities of ancient Rome (Law)

The world of ancient Romans abounded in a number of amazing curiosities and information. The source of knowledge about the life of the Romans are mainly works left to us by ancient writers or discoveries. The Romans left behind a lot of strange information and facts that are sometimes hard to believe.

Rapist did not have easy life

In ancient Rome, a rapist had his testicles crushed with two stones. In ancient Rome, rape – unless it was committed by the rulers – was punished severely. The victim was given a hammer and a stick, and with the help of these devices, it could beat his tormentor at will. The punishment for rape ended with particular cruelty at the hands of the executioner, who strangled the already beaten rapist with his own hands. Emperor Macrinus, for the rape of a maidservant by two soldiers, applied an unprecedented punishment to them: he ordered the criminals to be sewn into the ripped bellies of the bulls so that only their heads stick out.


Lex Annalis – regulation of cursus honorum

Lex Annalis was the law which decisively regulated the order of office (cursus honourum) in the Roman Republic. Moreover, it set the minimum age that a Roman citizen must have had to apply for a questorship. The requirement was 26 years of age and 10 years of military service.

Gaius Gracchus summoned by the senate, Pierre-Nicolas Brisset

Dowry in Roman world

In ancient Rome, it was an unwritten rule that in the event of marriage the bride should bring a dowry (dos). The additional capital contributed to the husband was to facilitate the maintenance of the family (onera matrimonii) and the protection of the wife or children in the event of a breakdown of the relationship (divortium). Obviously, the larger the dowry the father of the bride could propose, the greater the chance that the husband would accept the woman’s hand.

Portrait of a mummified woman

Loan for use and pledge in the Roman law

Apart from loan for consumption (mutuum) and deposit (depositum) there were other real contracts in the Roman law – loan for use (commodatum) and pledge (pignus). Loan for use emerged towards the end of the Republican era as a result of the need to regulate the everyday practise of using object which belong to other people.

Court scene in old Rome expulsion of the Sophists, 1899, by Paget, Henry Marriott

Adoption in Roman world

In ancient Rome, adoption (adoptio) meant taking a son or daughter from another family under paternal authority. Adoption was carried out in the presence of a praetor or governor. The adoptive consent was not required. The most common reason for the adoption was the need to maintain the continuity of the family.

Bust of a small child from 75 CE

Deposit in the Roman law

Apart from loan for consumption (mutuum) there were other real contracts – deposit (depositum), loan for use (commodatum) and pledge (pignus). Originally there was only the loan but with time the group of real contracts expanded and several different types of contracts were specified.

Forum Romanum

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